Visser on Iraq in the NYT today

Reidar’s op-ed, ‘An Unstable, Divided Land’ is a must-read. It places due responsibility on the U.S. government– under both G.W. Bush and Barack Obama– for the tragedy that most Iraqis continue to live through, today.
The news analysis piece that the NYT’s own Tim Arango also has in the paper today is in stark contrast to Reidar’s fine work. It’s ill-informed, exculpatory (of Washington), and deeply dishonest. Especially when he writes that the social and sectarian breakdown that Iraq experienced after the U.S. invasion– and that was certainly exacrebated by the U.S. occupation administration’s calculated policies of divide and rule– was “unforeseen” by Americans before the invasion. They were not unforeseen. Juan Cole, I, and numerous other people who knew a lot more about the country than the dangerous people running the Bush administration foresaw many or most of these problems and published widely about our concerns. If we were not listened to, that was not for lack of us trying to be heard.
When I read Arango’s piece I was almost overcome by a wave of sadness and anger. Sadness, for what our country wrought in Iraq, and anger at not having been given any kind of fair hearing in the pre-2003 period (or since.)
Arango does have some good quotes and snippets from Iraqis expressing their anger at the U.S. government after nearly nine years of miserable occupation.
But Reidar’s piece really beautifully sums up the analysis of how U.S. policy has continued to be harmful to Iraqis, including under Pres. Barack Obama.

7 thoughts on “Visser on Iraq in the NYT today”

  1. Speaking of Ron Paul, it a shame that the only candidate with a sensible, humane policy on war and foreign intervention is so far out to lunch on everything else, including the always wrong Austrian School economic theories.

  2. Do you think Bush, Obama or Netanyahu wish Iraq was stronger and more unified today rather than weak and divided?
    Why are we calling obvious consequences of Bush’s and Obama’s policies accidental?

  3. In classic NYT style, Arango refers to the Crusades, colonialism etc as “perceived injustices”. No doubt he tries every 4th July to see Britain’s enlightened colonialism in North America in a similarly balanced and dispassionate way.

  4. Watching the last of America’s formal military forces departing Iraq on their midnight run for the border with Kuwait, I couldn’t help but reflect on my own solitary exit from South Vietnam forty years ago next month. George Orwell caught the essence of these Departures from Debacle in his essay, “Catastrophic Gradualism”:
    “There is a theory which has not yet been accurately formulated or given a name, but which is very widely accepted and is brought forward whenever it is necessary to justify some action which conflicts with the sense of decency of the average human being. It might be called, until some better name is found, the Theory of Catastrophic Gradualism. According to this theory, nothing is ever achieved without bloodshed, lies, tyranny and injustice, but on the other hand no considerable change for the better is to be expected as the result of even the greatest upheaval. History necessarily proceeds by calamities, but each succeeding age will be as bad, or nearly as bad as the last. …
    “The formula usually employed is ‘You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs.’ And if one replies, ‘Yes, but where is the omelet?’ the answer is likely to be: ‘Oh, well, you can’t expect everything to happen all in a moment.'”
    Which thoughts suggest an appropriate obituary in verse:
    “After the Banquet in Baghdad”
    With their tails tucked proudly ‘tween their legs
    Advancing towards the exit march the dregs
    Of empire, whose retreat this question begs:
    No promised omelet, just the broken eggs?
    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2011

  5. You have to wonder if America’s blindness might be repeated in Syria, this time in favor of Sunnis. That is certainly what Qatar and Saudi Arabia want, and they appear to be supporting emerging Sunni militias.
    If so, add Syria to the arc of instability, with Sunnis covertly supporting subversion in Iraq and Shia covertly supporting subversion in the future Syria (and maybe elsewhere in the Gulf.)
    Maybe an insider in Washington could explain to me exactly how this benefits American interests?

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